Friday, June 22, 2018
A recent press release from Department of Veterans Affairs announced the VA's decision to release "annual" ratings for its nursing homes. From the opening words, the language in the notice is, shall we say, interesting.
Today [June 12, 2018] the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) extended its unprecedented 18-month record of transparency disclosures by making public for the first time its annual nursing home ratings. View the ratings here.
The data show that, overall, VA’s nursing home system – composed of more than 130 community living centers – compares closely with private sector nursing homes, even though the department on average cares for sicker patients in its nursing homes than do private facilities.
In fact, the overall star rating for VA’s nursing homes compared to the 15,487 private sector nursing homes rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that VA has a significantly lower percentage (34.1 percent lower) of one-star, or lowest rated, facilities than the rest of the nation.
Of note, 60 of VA’s nursing homes improved their quality score from last year to this year (2nd Quarter FY17 to 2ndQuarter FY18). Only one facility had a meaningful decline in that metric, and that facility was already rated with four stars.
Extending President Trump’s Commitment to VA Transparency, Quality Improvement
For years, the Obama administration had resisted making certain VA quality data public. But under President Trump’s leadership, transparency and accountability have become hallmarks of VA....
In addition to the press release, interested readers will want to follow USA TODAY and Boston Globe articles analyzing statistical reports from the VA, including Secret VA Nursing Home Ratings Hide Poor Quality Care From the Public (June 17, 2018); Lawmakers Demand Secrete NVA Nursing Home Data Be Released After USA TODAY, Boston Globe Report (June 19, 2018).
On June 20, 2018, USA Today followed up its series of articles with an editorial, pointing to incomplete information released by the VA:
Veterans can now go online to see comparative data for VA hospitals and outpatient clinics and choose private alternatives if VA care is wanting. But Veterans Affairs evidently hasn't yet learned that lesson for its operation of nursing homes. Though it released limited appraisal information after reporters inquired, the agency continues to withhold underlying quality data such as infection and injury rates at its elderly care facilities.
This information needs to be made public, not just when reporters ask for it but for any veteran or family of a veteran considering care at a VA nursing home. Private nursing homes are required by federal law to make this information available, and so should taxpayer-financed VA facilities.